By Debra Wallace
From the perspective of a hormone expert, with some 33 years in the health and wellness arena, she can help women deal with the aging process and keep them from entering into risky plastic surgeries that have scarred various celebrities.
Her innovative approach to natural hormone balancing helps to aid in weight loss, thyroid balancing as well as improvements in mood, sleep, and PMS and menopause symptoms. This is a growing problem among women 35+.
Dawn explains that she wrote her book, The Hormone Shift, for several major reasons. “There was definitely no mainstream information out there about hormone imbalances and stubborn weight,” she explains. “My background and degree in Health and Wellness inspired me to want to forge an alternative path for women and a book was a great way to get started.”
Read on to find out about Dawn’s important book, work in hormone balancing, aging, menopause, and more.
As a hormone expert and author on this important topic, what are a few top tips and misconceptions that women have about hormones, menopause, and related topics?
Dawn Cutillo: I think there’s a lot here that is confusing because the medical field does not study the interaction between sex and stress hormones. Understanding how hormones interact and get thrown off balance is key to understanding why women suffer from PMS and menopausal symptoms as well as excess weight and issues with mood and sleep.
The biggest misunderstanding is about estrogen and progesterone balance. No one talks about progesterone and it is a woman’s best friend. Progesterone is a natural fat burner, and natural diuretic, that soothes and calms the mood, aids sleep, regulates menstrual cycles, and even helps prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, and some female-related cancers.
I conducted a 2009 breast cancer research study which was published in the Original Internist, showing very low levels of progesterone linked to certain receptor-positive breast cancer.
Please educate us about progesterone and estrogen.
Progesterone is a topical form that can easily be used to help a younger woman avoid PMS symptoms every month. Natural progesterone drops dramatically at menopause which causes all the menopausal symptoms, especially weight gain. Doctors will often give estrogen for some unknown reason.
Estrogen does fall but only about 10-20 percent, but progesterone falls about 80% and is linked to the specific symptoms that women go through. I have seen this on lab tests with hundreds of women over the years and have worked with thousands after starting my business. I know this to be true and it is starting to become more common knowledge, which is good.
How and why did you get involved in writing your book, The Hormone Shift?
I wanted to have a medium to clearly explain to women what I was learning through my research and experience in the health field. I wanted to explain that chronic stress throws off the delicate female hormone system and that is what causes PMS/ menopausal symptoms and stubborn weight. My initial interest was mainly stubborn weight because I was seeing clients work with a lower-calorie healthy diet and doing exercises and even some relaxation therapy and not getting results. That’s when I pinpointed the hormones that were out of balance. Everyone knows that hormones contribute to PMS/menopausal symptoms but no one understands the how and why.
What kind of feedback have you received from your book?
I was thankful to receive many 4 and 5-Star reviews on Amazon and through feedback, I received from clients that read it. They said a light bulb went on and it was like an “aha” moment because of the way I try to tie everything together in a simple way, even using some simple graphs and charts.
Women are known for having strong intuition so no matter what their doctor might tell them about their bodies, deep down they know something is off. So, when I validated that in my book and with my general narrative, especially related to their stubborn weight, it was such a relief to so many women!
What is the general imbalance that women deal with and how does natural hormone balancing solve this?
It’s actually pretty simple. Women living in a modern society such as ours are under constant stress. Deadlines, relationship issues problems with finances are just the start. We forget there’s physical stress, not just emotional stress. Examples of this would be electromagnetic fields that come from our cell phones or computers, lack of sleep, physical pain, and over-exercise are all physical stressors. Stress in general will raise our cortisol levels.
The body can adapt to stress but when the demand for cortisol is high all the time, with chronic stress, the body runs out of the materials to make the cortisol to buffer us from the stress. The body had a backup system and it is the female hormone progesterone. Progesterone can be converted into cortisol so that we can survive, which is the most important thing to the body. The problem is that it leaves the average American woman generally low in progesterone causing PMS issues. Then after menopause progesterone drops even further because women stop ovulating.
There are many different approaches to hormone balancing/hormone therapy and aging, why are you a strong proponent of your approach?
I like to deal with the body holistically and systemically and not simply shoot darts at symptoms that need improvement with medications or specific hormones. When a woman aims to naturally balance her hormones, she has to look at her whole life, her stress levels, her diet, etc. which is essential for long-term health and happiness anyway. Instead of just using a Band-Aid for anxiety, like a benzo diazepam drug (for example Xanax), it’s best to address the underlying physiological cause such as low progesterone and/or overstimulation which can be taken care of by lowering stimulating foods (caffeine, alcohol, sugar) and participating in daily relaxation therapy.
How difficult is it to find a healthy balance in your life and rid yourself of harmful habits?
I believe a woman can look and feel her best at any age. Some people are die-hard romantics, I am die-hard when it comes to giving women hope because I believed that the body wants to be in balance and all we need to do is get out of its way or help out a bit. All a woman needs is the desire and then the right path or protocol and that’s what we’re discussing here. Small changes can be made to reach an ultimate goal.
Talk about advice for totally reversible symptoms of aging – how to get your life back and feel like you again.
I think it needs to start with a desire to prioritize yourself and your needs. When women are the best version of themselves, they are better for their partner, their children, and their work/community. I feel working from the inside out is the most important and hormone balance affects every area of a woman’s life as stated, including weight and what she sees in the mirror with her skin and hair as well as her mood, sleep, and the prevention of some major diseases.
Once a woman gets a taste of how good she can look and feel it will keep her motivated long-term to take care of herself with a nutritious diet, balanced exercise, and proper sleep.
Linda Evangelista was a big part of the 90s glamour – walking on catwalks and featured in major magazines. That was until she said the cosmetic procedure CoolSculpting left her “permanently disfigured.” What is your overall view of Linda’s issues and is this a cautionary tale that we can learn from?
My heart goes out to Linda. The fact that she was a very famous model is the only advantage here because she was able to be brave enough to step out and show the world what happened to her. Hopefully, it prevents this type of thing from happening to other women.
She, like every other woman, probably didn’t love what she saw in the mirror with her weight creeping up as she got 40 plus. I’m sure she tried everything before she even attempted Cool Sculpting. It’s the fact that women try and fail and they think it’s their fault. It is not their fault, it is their hormones, that is my message. Once women understand that they can get quick, measurable, and safe results they will understand that working to balance their body internally is a better path to go.
Can you share holistic tips for ageless skin to complement your skincare regimen?
If I wasn’t in the holistic health field, I swear I would be an esthetician. The skin is the largest organ of the body and it needs to be treated with care for its overall health — just like we would treat our other organs such as our heart. Hormones play a large role in the skin and when we have elevated stress that’s not just psychological but actually physical such as too much alcohol, caffeine, or sugar, it raises cortisol and that will work to thin the skin and cause it to break down and age it much faster. So, partaking in these foods should be limited.
I work hard on my skin from the inside out and get a lot of compliments and I’m very thankful. But hormone balancing has a lot to do with reducing acne and rosacea. Women do not have to deal with these skin conditions when they balance their hormones.
What has kept you going when times became difficult?
Interesting question because it has been difficult at times navigating this uncharted path. Because I’m not a standard medical doctor, so, at times people didn’t always take me seriously. I went toe-to-toe with many professionals and doctors until I established myself and now the fact that we have 25 franchises and another 20 coming around the country shows that women are the same everywhere in this type of help is needed and fully embraced.
I never lost hope because I wanted to give hope. I must admit that the thousands of women who have had their lives changed due to natural hormone balancing have kept me going. When you change your hormones, it has a butterfly effect on the rest of your body and then these changes affect how you act in your marriage, with your children, or even on the job. This effect also branches out into the communities that these women live in. That is a true butterfly. Wouldn’t it be great if all American women could have their hormones balanced?
What advice do you have for girls and young women – future generations – about aging, beauty, and self-esteem?
So important! I wish I knew what I know now when I was a young girl dealing with cramps so bad, that I had to go home from school, bloating, and acne. But my worst fears and problems became something I was able to use to give hope to the world and change many women’s lives. I always want women to remember that whatever they’re struggling with can be turned into the biggest miracle of their life.
This may not be the best example but wasn’t Kylie Jenner’s biggest insecurity her lips and after she changed that isn’t she a billionaire based on her sale of lip kits? And wasn’t that all before she was 21? So, no age is too young to start!
What else is important about this?
We need self-love and self-esteem. That’s a little bit harder to do in a world of social media and filters. I do believe if a woman has something she wants to change and it’s within her reach and not dangerous, it can be done. After all, when we look our best, we can truly forget about ourselves and focus on others around us. It is not narcissistic or conceited, is the very opposite because it takes the focus off of the negative thoughts about ourselves and truly gives focus on others. A very wise woman who is now 90 years old told me that and it has helped me tremendously. In my opinion, no woman should feel guilty for wanting to make changes that help them to feel better about themselves. She just needs to choose wisely and use her intuition.
What is your go-to technique for mindfulness and how does it help you?
It is hard to stay present, especially with the craziness of what’s going on in the world today. But I set time every day to go inward and connect to my source and make clear my intentions for the day. I feel much more balanced starting my day like that.
Sexuality is another important part of my business as I develop sexual health protocols for my company. It’s pretty safe to say that women usually aren’t thinking about the dishes or what they need to do tomorrow in the middle of an orgasm. Think about it. Anything we can do that brings us back into the moment and being in touch with ourselves and our partner is a beautiful thing.
What do you do and advise women should do for self-care?
Self-care is the new buzzword and I’m so excited because it is so important. Hopefully going to the days when a woman feels guilty about getting her nails done or getting a massage. We need to be our own best friends because it’s not like our children or spouses are going to sit us down and ask us when the last time we treated ourselves.
This does not have to be an expensive spa treatment because finances are tight for everyone right now. It can simply be lighting some incense or burning a scented candle and taking a hot bubble bath or rubbing warm sesame seed oil on and putting our favorite pajamas on and reading a book.
I feel there’s always room in a day or a week for a woman to do something that she wants to do that’s creative artistic or pampering. A woman needs to figure out for herself what it is that soothes her soul. I have a yoga swing in my living, a sauna upstairs, and a pole in my exercise room plus I love to read, take long walks, do yoga, hula hoop, and am learning some belly dance moves. It can be anything that makes us feel free and releases our inner child.
Why do you want to be a role model for the next generation?
I think it is so important and something that I take very seriously. I don’t have children of my own (just fur babies), and I admire the unending work of being a mother. I’ve dedicated my life to the women that are doing the hardest job in the world, being a mother. Running two or more companies could never be as hard, in my mind, as being there for your children 24/7 for the rest of your life. So, I have dedicated my life to women’s health to make their job a little bit easier.
I want the next generation to learn to love themselves no matter what, indulge in self-care and take it seriously, and know that they can blaze their own path whether that be with a unique career/ business like I did or in some aspect of their personal life. I always say never let someone tell you it has to be this way, you can make your life your own more than that be in marriage, child pairing, divorce, or any other celebration or hardship you go through. I always say, “Never let someone tell you it has to be this way, you can make your life your own whether that be in marriage, child pairing, divorce, or any other celebration or hardship you go through.” I have done that and know it can be done. It is quite rewarding to look back on.
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